These Spanish instrumentalists create rich and beguiling music that offers the listener so much that the lack of a singer is soon forgotten. Initially, ‘Moribund Star’ harks backs to the days of classic Acrimony or Kyuss, when fat riffs were played for sheer enjoyment. However, things soon become more progressive and sophisticated, such as on the excellent ‘Holy Wall’. Bold time signatures and tempo shifts add colour and artistry to Mothersloth’s doom canvas. The guitar work shifts from languidly expressive to sharp and raw, at times deploying an almost thrash-metal kind of tone that keeps things sounding fresh and energetic. These five songs drip with quality and maturity, and the catchy riffs just keep on coming. And they save one more surprise until near the end, when a singer suddenly appears and the music takes a grungy twist. ‘Moribund Star’ is an impressive release packed with interesting and well-developed ideas.
‘Ashes To Ashes’
Solitude Productions (June 2014)
Luna prove conclusively that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. By the end of this release, a single 57-minute song split into four or five movements, you might experience epic fatigue. There is only so much ‘epic’ a human ear can handle! This stunning symphonic funeral doom from Ukraine drifts like snow through a grey sky. The ever-present synths add a heavenly backing to the grimly rumbling guitars, and choirs of angels become constant companions throughout the recording. About 19 minutes in, a piano enters to bring in a new sound and a slight change of atmosphere, while later on a viola achieves the same. But overall, ‘Ashes To Ashes’ is a little one-paced, beautiful but simplistic and unrelentingly epic.
‘Simian Space King’
Some unusual synergies at play here: sludgy rage, monkey-based humour, blues and delicate doom combine to make this an interesting and attention-grabbing release. Chimpgrinder, when they are not mulling over the comedic properties of intergalactic apes, unleash a spacey brand of stoner rock, with the vocals adding a punky overtone to the mean, muscular guitars. This is 17 minutes of angry fun, with songs lasting around three minutes only, even though they rarely get beyond strolling pace. ‘Stomach of God’ and ‘High Ground And Looking Down’ are the stand-outs tracks, irresistible forces of nature. The band’s Facebook biography, by the way, is fantastically odd, and it would be great to see that personality coming through more consistently in the music.
Idre create atonal doomed post-rock that is interspersed with delicate melody and hints of sludge, landing somewhere between Neurosis and Ennio Morricone. The band’s sombre, jangling guitar work is creative and unusual, exploring unexpected tangents and teasing you into gloomy alleyways, where the band might abandon you. The singer sound like a vampiric Johnny Cash, morose and wearing dark black. The first of the two songs included on this album meanders for 27 mins and is packed with heartfelt reflection and subtly-crafted, minimalist ideas which come insistently, one after another. It’s frustratingly restrained, changing frequently rather than progressing. Even the clattering crescendo a few minutes into the second track, ‘Witch Trial’, is insufficient to make you feel fully rewarded. The trio from Oklahoma City certainly indulge their creativity sometimes at the expense of cohesion.
‘Ancient, Majestic’ (2013)
Londoners Hagstone, who were formed in 2012, mix the anguish of Alice In Chains, the energy of Kyuss and the melancholy of Trouble. The quivering vocals may not always cut the mustard, but the band produces some tight, groovy riffs that will surely encourage you to shake your stuff. And when they slow down, there is a gentle epicness behind their doomier side, which is when Hagstone are at their best. The greatest thing about this five-song release, though, is the lively and exciting drumming, irresistible cowbell included, which helps to raise even the less engaging material to a higher level. ‘Ancient, Majestic’ could be the start of something great for this band.